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Aggies Insider: Winless Army could be cure for ailing Aggies

Game 3 rewind: Miami 41, Texas A&M 23

The good news: Aggies fans got a glimpse at the playmaking ability of quarterback Jerrod Johnson, who was given numerous opportunities to prove he could make something out of nothing while running for his life against an aggressive Hurricanes defense. The 6-foot-5 sophomore threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns, including two to tailback Mike Goodson, in his first start. ... A&M's offense finally turned in its first true explosive play of the season, opening the game with a 62-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Goodson. ... Also a long time coming was senior Richie Bean's first career field goal, a 38-yarder in the first quarter. ... It was an encouraging day for the Aggies receivers, who had no drops. Freshman Jeff Fuller and Terrence McCoy led the way with five catches each. ... Coaches said they saw more physical play on defense and were particularly pleased with the play of defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cyril Obiozor. Linebacker Von Miller was the top tackler with a career-high nine stops, including two for losses, in his first start.

The bad news: Jerrod Johnson's good plays were offset by two critical third-quarter mistakes deep in A&M territory in a one-minute span that helped Miami pull away with two quick touchdowns. It took the Hurricanes one play to score after his interception at the 15, then they increased their lead to 41-10 on the Aggies' ensuing possession when Glenn Cook scooped up Johnson's fumble at the 2 and ran into the end zone. ... As long as quarterback Robert Marve was in the game, Miami seemed to move the ball at will. Through three quarters the Hurricanes had 41 points and 357 yards while averaging almost 8 yards per play. Six of their plays went for 25 yards or more. ... The Aggies were penalized seven times for 71 yards, and several flags proved to be costly. ... Special teams were also an issue. Miami had a 44-yard punt return and a 41-yard kickoff return. ... Perhaps most alarming were the injuries to two offensive linemen and the shoulder sprain suffered by Johnson in the second quarter. Tackle Travis Schneider, the team's most experienced lineman, sprained his left ankle and missed the entire second half. Guard Lee Grimes went down with a left knee injury in the fourth quarter.

What they said: "I thought we played harder than we've played all year. We showed a lot of toughness out there. We really got after those guys. I think the thing that really cost us was we had a lot of mental mistakes -- 70 yards in penalties and putting the ball on the ground a few times. When you're going against a team like MIami or someone in the Big 12, you're not going to come away with a W when you do that kind of stuff to yourself. We've got to stop beating ourselves and keep improving, and I think things will start turning in our favor." -- Senior offensive tackle Travis Schneider

This week's matchup

Army (0-3) at Texas A&M (1-2)

When: Saturday, 11:30 a.m.

Where: Kyle Field, College Station

TV/Radio: Versus/KFXR 1190-AM

The line: The Aggies are a 28-point favorite

Last meeting: Texas A&M 28, Army 24 in San Antonio in 2006

Three things to watch

1. Quarterback roulette: Once again, the Aggies' quarterback situation is up in the air. One week after Stephen McGee sprained his shoulder against New Mexico, backup Jerrod Johnson suffered a similar, but less severe, injury against Miami. Coach Mike Sherman said he expects both quarterbacks to be ready to play Saturday. If so, both will likely see playing time, and perhaps third-stringer Ryan Tannehill will be able to log some snaps at wide receiver. Army has its own revolving door of quarterbacks, using three players to run its triple-option attack this season. Junior Carson Williams has started all three games, completing 19 of 32 passes for 221 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, but the Black Knights had more success last week with sophomore Chip Bowden against Akron. Army averaged 4.5 yards per play with Bowden under center and just 2.7 yards with Williams and senior Carlo Sandiego at quarterback. However, Bowden is just 1-for-4 passing and he left last week's game after spraining his ankle. He is questionable for Saturday's game.

2. A defensive pick-me-up: Army looks like the perfect opponent for an Aggie defense that might be in need of a confidence boost after surrendering 41 points last week to Miami. The Black Knights have scored only 20 points in three weeks and are averaging just 257 yards in total offense. Army is ranked 118th in scoring offense and passing offense, 117th in turnover margin and 115th in total offense among the 119 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. However, the triple-option is something A&M will face only once this season, and it will be important for the Aggies to be disciplined and fundamentally sound.

3. Big-play potential: The Black Knights should also offer plenty of chances for big plays. Army has given up a 98-yard kickoff return against Temple, a 50-yard punt return against Temple, a 49-yard pass against Akron and a 27-yard run against New Hampshire. Texas A&M's longest offensive play of the season was 36 yards before Mike Goodson's 62-yard catch and run for the Aggies' first touchdown against Miami.

What they're saying: “When we are in the indoor facility, we will have crowd noise in there to make sure we can communicate both offensively and defensively, and that’s really the best that you can do. I think the similar atmosphere that most of these kids have been in is the Army-Navy game, as far as the number of the people.” -- Army coach Stan Brook on preparing to play at Kyle Field

"We all can do better, and it starts with me. I told them after the [Miami] game: Hey, we're in this thing together. It's not you guys, the coaches, it's all of us. We all have to do a better job. I made my share of mistakes also. We've got to fix our mistakes. If we keep pounding and keep working, we're gong to get out of this little rut we're in." -- Coach Mike Sherman on the Aggies' 1-2 start

Did you know?

* Wide receiver Jeff Fuller, who has three touchdown catches in his first three collegiate games, needs just one more receiving TD to set the freshman record at A&M.

* Justin Brantly leads the Big 12 and ranks sixth in the nation in punting, but the Aggies are 78th in net punting, giving up three punt returns of 32 yards or more.

* A near capacity crowd is expected at Kyle Field, which means Army could play in front of its largest crowd since 1986 when the Black Knights upset Tennessee 25-21 in Knoxville in front of 91,343 fans.

* Army fullback Collin Mooney, who leads the Black Knights in rushing, grew up in Katy and is one of 29 players from Texas listed on the Army roster.

* The Black Knights have turned the ball over 12 times in three games, and opponents have turned the miscues into 44 points.

By the numbers

2.8 -- Average yards per rushing attempt for the Aggies this season

3 -- Chances for Army to score inside Texas A&M's 2-yard line in the final 13 seconds of the Aggies' 28-24 victory in 2006 in San Antonio

7 -- Quarters without a touchdown for the Army offense

11 -- Consecutive road losses for the Black Knights, whose last road victory came in 2006 against Baylor

18 -- Jerrod Johnson's national ranking in pass efficiency (157.48). Six Big 12 quarterbacks rank above him.